U.S. refiner and fuel retailer Valero Refining has been identified as a potential buyer for a stake in the New Zealand-based Marsden Point refinery as Shell and Exxon Mobil look to quit their downstream presence in the country and concentrate on exploration, The New Zealand Herald reported.
Between them, Shell and Exxon own 36 percent of the refinery and more than 400 service stations throughout New Zealand.
Valero has said it is interested in refinery acquisitions in the Pacific to meet Asian demand growth. Valero may be less interested in Shell and Mobil’s filling stations, but speculation points to Progressive Enterprises, The Warehouse and Foodstuffs as being potential bidders given their retail expertise.
Supermarket operator Progressive Enterprises reportedly had no comment, The Warehouse did not respond to inquiries and Foodstuffs was reported as saying it was not interested.
In several countries, including Australia, Canada and the U.S., big oil companies have sold out of retailing to concentrate on exploration and distribution.
Shell in February announced it had started on a possible sales process, while Mobil will not comment on its plans. Chevron Caltex has sold some c-stores, but says it is committed to New Zealand. The country’s biggest player, BP, yesterday said its assets were “definitely not for sale.”